We’ll bet you’ve seen Lola Nena’s donuts online—almost giant, fluffy, melted cheese-filled donuts smothered in margarine and sugar. Heck, you’ve probably even seen them questionably (or ingeniously?) used for birria tacos or cheeseburgers. These newcomers to Lola Nena’s menu gained quite a lot of traction; so much so that the brand upped production to almost 50,000 donuts a day.
With 12 branches in Quezon City, Manila, Pasig, and Parañaque, it’s not hard to get a hold of a box of these babies. But for the benefit of people outside of Metro Manila, we hacked it. This Lola Nena’s donuts-inspired recipe gets you a flavor and experience close to the original, but with the advantage of customizing it the way you want.
What is Lola Nena’s?
Lola Nena’s is a homegrown purveyor that’s famous for its extra soft, cheese-loaded pichi–pichi. This is why it might’ve been a surprise for those familiar with the brand to find out they’re now hawking donuts. But true to their core of bringing food that’s reminiscent of your grandparent’s cooking, they’ve been expanding their menu since 2016. Aside from pichi-pichi and donuts, Lola Nena’s also sells pancit, toasted siopao, and even ready-to-cook meats like embutido.
Triple Cheese Donuts
Lola Nena’s already had donuts on their menu as early as 2018. And though people generally loved the bicho-bicho-inspired snack, a lot of them hoped for it to have more cheese. So in 2020, Lola Nena’s came out with their Triple Cheese Donuts; it’s their original old-fashioned donut—but with three times the amount of cheese. (So no, it’s not three kinds of cheese in the donut.)
How to Make Lola Nena’s-Inspired Donuts
In the goal of making Pinoy-style donuts, this recipe starts with dough that’s more akin to pandesal than it is donuts. This gets you the large dough that’s somehow both soft and chewy at the same time. We’ve filled it with Eden cheese (you can also use Quickmelt) for extra familiarity. And to drive it home, it’s covered in margarine—not butter, though you can take that route, too—and white sugar for a balance of saltiness and sweetness, plus an extra crunch to the bite.
Making the Dough
To make the donuts, combine flour, salt, sugar, yeast, and powdered milk into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make sure to put the salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl to prevent the salt from killing the yeast. This might end you up with a dough that doesn’t rise.
Starting at low speed, mix the dry ingredients until well-combined. Doing this helps evenly distribute the ingredients.
Add the water, then turn the mixer up to medium speed. Run the dough for three to five minutes until a rough dough forms.
It should start to come together into a ball, though don’t worry if it’s not cohesive yet.
While still at medium speed, add the butter by the tablespoon. You’re only adding it at this point because butter inhibits gluten formation. So you’ll want the dough to have developed gluten before incorporating it or else you’ll have a tough dough. Continue working the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. This should take about 15 minutes in total.
You can also make the dough without a stand mixer. To do it, combine the dry ingredients by mixing them with a spatula. After adding the water, make a rough dough by kneading it with your hands. Continue kneading with the butter until you form a smooth dough.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover it in a towel or plastic wrap. Leave the dough to rise for one hour or until it has doubled in size, which can be faster in a humid country like ours.
Shaping and Filling the Donuts
Once the dough has risen, degas it by punching it down, then turn it out onto a floured surface. You may want to sprinkle more flour, but don’t overdo it; only add enough to make sure nothing sticks.
Using a bench cutter or a knife, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball by turning it in a circular motion on a surface or by tucking it into itself.
Cover the pieces with plastic wrap or a towel to prevent them from drying out.
Working one piece at a time, flatten the rolled dough then place a piece of cheese in the center. You can decide how much—and even what kind—of cheese to put in your donuts. (Though Eden really makes this Pinoy-style.)
Gather the edges of the dough to seal the cheese inside. You can pinch it by the seal or roll it seam-side down to close it. You’ll want to make sure it’s sealed properly or else the cheese will ooze out while frying. Repeat this step with the remaining pieces of dough.
Once all 12 donuts are filled, transfer them to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, making sure to leave space between each piece. (You can also just leave them on a surface.) Cover them again with a plastic wrap or a towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Frying and Coating
Preheat oil for frying to 350F (176C). Slowly lower the donuts into the hot oil and fry them until golden, about four minutes on each side.
Be careful not to overcrowd your pot; this will lower the temperature of your oil, affecting how the donuts will fry.
Once golden, transfer donuts onto a paper towel-lined tray or a cooling rack to drain the excess oil.
Meanwhile, place the melted margarine and white sugar in two separate bowls. Once slightly warm, take each donut and coat in the melted margarine.
Next, roll them in the sugar. You can customize the coating, as well; maybe throwing in some cinnamon in the sugar.
Repeat with all the donuts, then serve.
These donuts are best eaten warm to fully enjoy the melted cheese action. Mimicking the panaderya experience, you can have it with a hot cup of coffee or tsokolate.
When saving for later, you can reheat it by toasting it, microwaving it, air frying it, or even throwing it into a panini press or waffle maker. Lola Nena’s has even more of these ideas on their TikTok account if you need inspiration!
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